The Snowden Files

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The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man
The Snowden Files.jpg
First edition
AuthorsLuke Harding[1]
PublisherVintage Books[1]
Publication date

The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man (ISBN 978-0-8041-7352-0) is a 2014 book by Luke Harding, published by Vintage Books.

Greg Miller of The Washington Post described the book as the first single-book account of Edward Snowden's 2013 leaking of National Security Agency (NSA) documents. However, Miller commented that the "British perspective" of the book "overlooks some significant U.S. developments and underplays important work done by other journalists, including Barton Gellman of The Washington Post."[2]


Greg Miller concluded that "Harding has delivered a clearly written and captivating account of the Snowden leaks and their aftermath, succeeding beyond his most basic ambition, which was to arrive in bookstores first."[2]

The book received positive reviews from The Guardian[3] and the London Review of Books, which called it "a super-readable, thrillerish account of the events surrounding the reporting of the documents".[4] Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times wrote that the book "reads like a le Carré novel crossed with something by Kafka."[5]

Conversely, The Daily Telegraph's David Blair wrote: "Harding's story crackles with verve, but complexity and nuance are banished. In particular, the real dilemmas of intelligence work are ignored."[6]

The Snowden Files was initially criticised by Snowden associate, journalist Glenn Greenwald, when he had only read extracts from Harding's book. Later, after reading the whole book, he conceded that it did not criticise Snowden. On February 14, 2014 Greenwald told the Financial Times: "They are purporting to tell the inside story of Edward Snowden but it is written by someone who has never met or even spoken to Edward Snowden. Luke came here and talked to me for half a day without [my] realising that he was trying to get me to write his book for him. I cut the interview off when I realised what he was up to." The Financial Times has since amended the article stating: "Harding insists that when he spoke to Greenwald in Rio, he made it very clear he was doing research for his book on Snowden."[7]

WikiLeaks founder and Snowden backer Julian Assange—subject of the 2011 book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy, coauthored by Luke Harding and David Leigh, that Assange condemned[8]—harshly criticized both The Snowden Files and its author, calling the book "a walloping fraud, written by frauds to be praised by frauds". Assange stated, "the most disappointing thing of all about The Snowden Files is that it is exploitative. It should not have existed at all. We all understand the pressures facing print journalism and the need to diversify revenue in order to cross-subsidize investigative journalism. But investigative journalism involves being able to develop relationships of trust with your sources."[9]


The Snowden Files, along with the fictionalized Time of the Octopus by Snowden's Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, forms the basis of the Oliver Stone film Snowden (2016).


  1. ^ a b c The Snowden files : the inside story of the world's most wanted man. WorldCat. OCLC 870337274. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Miller, Greg. "'The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man' by Luke Harding." Washington Post. February 14, 2014. Retrieved on July 14, 2014.
  3. ^ The Snowden Files by Luke Harding – review | Books | The Guardian
  4. ^ Daniel Soar reviews ‘The Snowden Files’ by Luke Harding · LRB 20 February 2014 - The London Review of Books
  5. ^ Kakutani, Michiko. "The Needles in the Monumental N.S.A. Haystack." The New York Times. February 4, 2014. Retrieved on July 14, 2014. Print: February 5, 2014, page C1, New York edition: "Tales From Within the N.S.A.’s Monumental Haystack."
  6. ^ The Snowden Files by Luke Harding, review - Telegraph
  7. ^ Geoff Dyer (14 February 2014). "Lunch with the FT: Glenn Greenwald". Financial Times.
  8. ^ Suroor, Hasan (6 February 2011). "Assange threatens to sue 'Guardian'". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  9. ^ Assange: How 'The Guardian' Milked Edward Snowden's Story Newsweek, Retrieved on April 21, 2014